Thursday, August 5, 2010

I Have To Remember - It's Not About Me!

I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked the question, "Why would God allow this to happen?" It is a difficult question and a self-centered one. Too often we consider that everything is about us, we being the center of our own personal universe. That is a dangerous place to be, at the center, because it is a difficult place to get out of. We think that everything that is happening is about us and we only consider how it impacts us. It turns us into "drama queens" and the center of all sympathies. Being the center gives us a very distorted perspective of life in general. Our Father certainly does not have the same perspective.

I do not know if you remember the Disnified version of Moses' life in the movie "Prince of Egypt", a movie I had plenty of problems watching. Despite its many errors and assumptions there was one scene that spoke to me as I am sure it spoke to many others. It was the scene where Moses' future father-in-law gave a wonderful illustration of how God views our life as a single strand in a very large tapestry and how he is weaving our lives together, making a great thing of beauty. Our participation in life either adds to or takes away from people but we are not the center of their lives because they are surrounded by many other people with whom they have been woven together. We are not a center but instead a small part of something our Father is doing.

If we can picture this and allow this to be our perspective then we can understand that sometimes we go through things that are intended for other people's blessings. Sometimes the things we face, experience and do are not about us but about others. As we read the end of Matthew 2 we can see how our Father works as he leads Joseph and his family.

Joseph was told to flee Israel and hide out in Egypt because of the murderous plot of king Herod. In doing this Joseph filled prophecy about Jesus. Then we read this:

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."
So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene." (Matthew 2:19-23)

This was more fulfilling of prophecy through what looked like the circumstances of life. I wonder if there was any point where Joseph asked "Why me?" or if he wondered why God was allowing this? Joseph was no great adventurer and I doubt he was much into politics. He was a successful town carpenter who probably only journeyed away from town to participate in Passover at Jerusalem. Now he finds himself at the center of political plots, international flight, cloak and dagger tactics, and life on the run. If it was any of us I am sure we would have a few questions for God. However, none of this was about Joseph. These were events that had already been seen and prophesied about; this was about Jesus and the Father's plan. Joseph could not realize this when he was in the thick of it and he may never have realized to what extent these events played in the Father's plan, and either do we when it comes to the events of our lives.

We have a promise that comforts us during difficult times and we cling to it because we hope that it will make sense out of everything:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

In Joseph's case everything worked out for all of us as prophecy concerning Jesus was worked through Joseph's life. This was not about Joseph alone but about all of us in this tapestry of life. This thing that Paul wrote, under the inspiration of the Spirit, also addresses us as the Body of Christ. Often the things we face and experience benefit us to an extent but also have a greater impact for far more people than we could imagine at the time. Our willingness to go through it in obedience to our Father makes all the difference in our Father's plans. Note that this verse from Romans points out that it applies to those who love God and, I believe, an acceptance or understanding of this perspective of life as we read "who have been called according to his purpose".

Joseph's purpose was to raise and protect the Son of God. In seeing the quality of the man Jesus and his siblings like James and Jude, we can see that Joseph served his purpose well. Perhaps Joseph had a greater understanding of God's perspective on life and our lives and he understood clearly that God was using him for the greater blessing of the whole of mankind. It is certainly a perspective most of us would benefit from as we move out from the center and began to realize the impact of our lives on others. Those who walk in love and obedience will prove to be a blessing and those who are stuck at the center of their universe will not be a blessings and drama will swirl all around them. Perhaps then, if we could understand these things, we would change from "Why me Lord?" to "Not my will but yours be done". 

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